‘Fatal Attraction’ is a great psychological thriller

I’m a big fan of psychological thrillers. Don’t get me wrong — I don’t mind the occasional slasher flick. However, I would much rather watch something that makes me think and scares me at the same time.

Over the weekend, once again, I dove head first into Xfinity’s free movies. There are literally thousands of movies available. If you have access to it, just take a stroll through sometime. There are some real gems there. One of the gems I found was the 1987 psychological thriller “Fatal Attraction.” I remembered seeing it in high school, but it was one of those movies I never watched again.

About 30 minutes into it, I remembered why.

In case you don’t know, the story of “Fatal Attraction,” you’re missing out.

Without too many spoilers, here’s the plot: Daniel “Dan” Gallagher (Michael Douglas) is a successful, happily-married Manhattan lawyer whose work leads him to meet Alexandra “Alex” Forrest (a very sexy Glenn Close), an editor for a publishing company. While his wife, Beth (Anne Archer), and daughter, Ellen (Ellen Hamilton Latzen), are out of town for the weekend, Dan has an affair with Alex. Although it was initially understood by both as just a fling, Alex gets obsessed with him.

As you can imagine, things go sideways pretty quickly. Alex attempts to kill herself in an attempt to elicit sympathy from Dan. He helps her bandage her wounds (she slit her wrists), spends the night with her and goes on his way. That’s the end of things, right?

Um, no.

In fact, Alex gets worse. She begins to torment Dan and his family. She calls their home at all hours of the day and night, trashes their car and just wreaks all sorts of havoc.

There’s a lot to unpack in the film. While Alex is clearly the villain, Dan isn’t far behind. His wife is literally gone for hours before he is having drinks with Alex. He completely leads Alex on by spending the weekend with her. Just so we’re clear: He’s not completely innocent here. You can argue that Dan is just as bad as Alex.

“Fatal Attraction” has the benefit of being made in 1987. There was no caller ID, no FaceTime, no Facebook. Dan gets away with the affair — at least for a bit — because of technology. If it was made in 2022, Beth would have FaceTimed Dan from the country and the movie would be over in 15 minutes.

While doing a deep dive on the history of the film, I found out that producers didn’t want to cast Close as Alex. They didn’t think she was “sexy enough.” They were looking at other actresses for the role, including Barbara Hershey. However, prior to her audition, Close let her naturally curly hair grow out and wore a sexy black dress. She had instant chemistry with Douglas. The rest, as they say, is history.

There was also an alternate ending in which Alex kills herself and frames Dan for the murder. Audiences didn’t like that, though, so it was re-shot with a completely different ending.

“Fatal Attraction” was not only a box office hit, it was a critical success as well. In fact, the film garnered several Oscar nominations. Interestingly enough, both Close and Archer nabbed nominations. Douglas did not. It failed to win any statuettes, however.

Although the movie is dated, the plot holds up. In interviews, Close insists that the character of Alex has a lot of depth. “I wasn’t playing a generality, I wasn’t playing a cliche. I was playing a very specific, deeply disturbed, fragile human being, whom I had grown to love,” Close said. In many ways, we’ve all known an Alex. For that matter, we’ve all known a Dan.

“Fatal Attraction” is rated R for sexual situations, nudity, adult themes, violence and adult language. You can watch “Fatal Attraction” on Xfinity OnDemand, HBO Max, Amazon Prime, Vudu, iTunes and Google Play.

— — — —

Chris Morelli is the news editor of The Express.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *


Starting at $3.69/week.

Subscribe Today